Richard Morgan, the author of the fantastic mind bending Altered Carbon makes his foray into Fantasy(albeit with strange AIs, multiple realities and what not) with this series and its turning out to be a good ride so far.Morgan takes the conventions of fantasy and gives them a crash course in reality so to speak. The story is told through three characters Ringil, Archeth and Egar. All three of them are war veterans, heroes of the war against alien forces. They should be treated like Gods but each of them has a quirk so extreme that violates social norms so thoroughly that this never really pans out. The characters are really well written and realized and Morgan establishes them in a short period of time so much so that you are rooting for the dysfunctional protagonists by the end of it all.
Morgans shatters all notions of romanticized fantasy(Actually this is nothing new after the song of ice and fire and The blade itself) but the language is offensive to say the least. There are deaths aplenty as you would expect. The fights are narrated with a military attention to detail but you will find no grand battles here. All notions of honor are shattered. The big reveals come slowly. As you read the back story is filled out. The sci fi elements are never far from the surface add to the mix. This is provocative fantasy and not for the faint of heart.
The two books have been a magnificent read so far. (The cover blurb just fails to do justice to the writing though, Fantasy Harder faster bloodier had me chuckling the whole while). One thing is clear as well. Morgan is at heart a science fiction aficionado because as the series progresses it seems to heading more and more into the sci fi territory.
You can buy The Steel Remains here.